Save the Universe with a Purple Dragon
Ahh, another 3D platform game. Already out on the market are Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, Gex: Enter the Gecko, Jersey Devil, and Rascal, just to name a few. Platform games are a dime a dozen, but occasionally along comes a gem such as Spyro the Dragon.
Spyro the Dragon's plot is pretty much generic platform fare. Here's the way it works. Some dude named Gnasty Gnorc (note the alliteration) has gone and turned all the dragons into stone statues and their beloved crystals into Gnorc soldiers. By some crazy twist of fate, Spyro the Dragon managed to escape Gnasty's nastiness (sorry, I had to), and it's your job to pilot him to the salvation of the universe. You travel through six worlds, releasing dragons (each of the 100-sum dragons, by the way, has its own unique voice), collecting gems, and generally making the planet a safer place for nice dragons.
Cheesy, save-the-world plot aside, the most gorgeous thing about Spyro the Dragon is the graphics. I mean, before seeing this game I would have put money down that the PlayStation couldn't pull off graphics this beautiful and this fluid. Each world is brilliantly texture-mapped and smooth as a baby's butt. And, ladies and gentlemen, all of this is seen through a camera system that actually works!
As far as moves goes, Spyro's got it covered. You can spit fire at foes, charge them with your little dyno-horns, and, although Spyro can't fly (except in the bonus stages), he can do a decent job gliding (press the jump button at the top of your jump, and Spyro will glide to the ground). Oh yeah, Spyro can also roll to the left and right -- a move that comes in handy when an enemy's running at you.
PlayStation gamers will also be happy to note that this game is gigantic. Each world has four huge levels as well as a couple bonus levels and, of course, a boss stage. Since there is so much to explore, the ending you get is dependent on how many items you collected. Sound familiar? Well, if you've played either of the Crash Bandicoot titles, this game will ring a number of bells for you. It is, after all, a product the very same team that brought you that lovable marsupial. Heck, there's even a Crash 3 demo included when you enter a cheat code.
The enemies in Spyro the Dragon are some of the coolest I've ever seen. Not only are they great looking (check out the giant cat-like things in the Magic Crafters world), they also behave in all sorts of fun ways. Certain enemies will charge you with their teeth grit, while others will run in fright. If you chase them, they'll hide and "moon" you when find them. They even interact with the environment --try chasing the soldiers in the Peace Keepers level, they'll run into tents. When Spyro torches the tent (a cool, cartoon-like animation transforms the tent into a charred frame that crumbles to the ground) you see the bad guy shaking with terror before you blast him. There's even a little thief that leads you on a break-neck chase --he laughs at you condescendingly if you don't catch him.
With all that said, their are a few things that keep Spryo from greatness. First off, they could have done more with his voice. Okay, so they got the guy who does the voice of the Taco Bell chihuahua; that's awesome, right? Nope. Spyro's voice is simply wimpy. And continuing on the wimpy theme, they could have given this game a bit more of an edge. While young gamers will appreciated the thick sugar-coating this game has, older gamers will want a little less Sesame Street.
If pastels are your taste, then play this game like you've never played before. Even the music (composed by Stewart Copeland, former drummer for the Police) is straight out of Saturday morning fairy-tale cartoons. And as far as difficulty goes, this game requires time more than anything else. You won't find any brain-busting puzzles, just huge worlds whose every corner you must explore.
Where Spyro lacks in guts, however, it more than makes up for in fun. This really is an entertaining game to play, and easily one of the coolest platformers the PlayStation's ever seen.